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Life is a Journey

Nightmares of Innocents 1/3

Nightmares of Innocents 1/3

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Sleeping Beauty

Title: Nightmares of Innocents
Author: Disneymagics
Rating: T (for situations)
Characters: Jared, Jensen, Christian, Misha, and Chad
Genre: RPF, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: None of these people belong to me; they all belong to themselves.  None of this is true in any way, shape or form.  I made it all up. 
Warnings: This fic contains a form of infantilism although it is emotional and not sexual in nature, mentions of past child abuse as well as current physical and mental abuse.
Word Count: over 15,000 in total (6,000 this part)

nightmares of innocents 1

Prompt: Written for the following prompt over at spnkink-meme:  Jared adopted adultbaby!Jensen years ago, as a single father, and Jensen has been an adult baby so long that his ability to communicate is impaired; mainly he relies on crying for distress.  When Jared is forced to go back to work more frequently, he hires a nanny to take care of Jensen and what Jared doesn’t know is that the nanny is abusing Jensen. The nanny pressures Jensen into not telling by saying that Jared loves his job and Jensen is being selfish, etc.  PLEASE NO SEXUAL ABUSE! Any other type of abuse is fine.
A/N:  I strayed a bit from the prompt by creating a hybrid kind of relationship between Jensen and Jared that resembles intantilism, but is different in many ways.  I'm not sure how to classify it so I'm not even going to try.  My love and appreciation go to etoile_etiolee  for creating not one, but four gorgeous pieces of artwork for this fic.  They will appear throughout the story.  She has also been an inspiration to me and provided much encouragement, hand-holding, and cheer-leading.  She is a fantastic friend.  My thanks also go to alezig and kamikaze_redux for their invaluable enthusiasm.


Nightmares of Innocents

Chapter 1

"Wake up, sunshine." The gentle voice is soothing and so is the large hand sifting through his hair. Jensen loves that voice because it belongs to his daddy. Warmth and a sense of well-being flood through him. The fluffy cocoon of blankets he has made for himself in his crib is downy soft and his body feels heavy with sleep. It isn't worth the effort it would take to pry his eyes open so he doesn't bother, instead letting the warmth carry him back under.

There's a fond chuckle from above him and strong arms pick him up, carrying him for a short distance before settling him in daddy's lap in the rocking chair. "You always have such a hard time waking up, don't you, love?"

It's true. Sleep always takes a powerful hold of him, dragging him down and often refusing to let him go. He's always been a deep sleeper, can sleep through just about anything. His body seems to need a lot of sleep too. Even though he takes a long nap every day, he can still sleep all night long and have trouble waking up in the morning. He doesn't know why, that's just the way he is. Daddy Jared doesn't seem to mind.

They rock and snuggle for a long time while Jensen dozes, his head resting in the crook of his daddy's neck while Jared hums quietly under his breath. At some point, daddy stops humming and starts talking to him. "Do you know what today is, baby boy?"

Jensen blinks heavy eyelids open and shakes his head sleepily into daddy's neck.

"Today is the second anniversary of you coming to live with me and letting me be your daddy and letting me take care of you. I think that deserves a celebration. Two whole years, Jesus. Sometimes it's hard to believe it's been that long."

Two whole years. Daddy says two years like that's a really long time, but Jensen has no frame of reference to tell whether that's a long time or not because he doesn't remember very much before coming to live with Daddy Jared. When he tries to think back, he gets vague images of two faceless people, a man and a woman. He thinks they were supposed to love him, but they didn't. In his memories they're much bigger than he is, towering over him. Sometimes they're screaming at him and sometimes they're hitting him or burning him with small, white sticks. He can remember being locked in the closet a lot as punishment without any food or water, but mostly he just remembers being scared and lonely and sad. Very, very sad.

Daddy wipes a tear from his cheek with the pad of his thumb, shushing him. "Oh sweetheart, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you think about that. It's okay. Nothing bad is gonna happen to you ever again. I promise."

Jensen hadn't realized he'd started to cry. It startles him a little bit and he burrows further into the safety of his daddy's arms.

Even though Jensen doesn't speak, has never said a word in the two years since they've been together, daddy always seems to understand him, to know what he's thinking and why he's upset.

"I'll tell you what; I'll make you pancakes and bacon for breakfast right after I change your diaper. Then I'll call your Uncle Christian and see if he can come over. I'll bet he'd love to visit with you. Maybe he'll bring Chad and we can see if Misha is free too. All our favorite people to celebrate our big day. What do you think?"

Christian isn't really his uncle. In fact, they aren't related in any way, but he's daddy's best friend and the reason why Jensen came to live with Jared. He's a police officer and the first person Jensen ever felt like he could trust in his whole life. It's probably because of Christian that he's still alive, that he cares about whether he's alive or dead.

Chad is Christian's friend. He's loud and kind of crazy. At first, Jensen hadn't been too sure about Chad, but he's getting used to him. It takes him a while to get used to new people.

Misha is a paramedic, the one who came to take him out of the scary, sad house with the mean people in it. He likes to make funny faces and he'd made sure Jensen was never left alone in the hospital even when Christian was getting him released into Jared's custody.

The people at the hospital had said he was 18 years old at the time. That makes him 20 now.

The first diaper change of the day is special because that's when Jensen gets his face shaved. Daddy likes for him to be clean shaven, says he likes to see Jensen's sweet face. Jensen doesn't really care whether he's smooth or not, he just loves having his daddy's undivided attention.

Once the changing pad is unrolled onto the plush carpeting of his nursery, daddy settles him on his back in the middle and goes to get the diapering and shaving supplies. "I'll be right back, sweetie. Be a good boy and stay there."

Jensen smiles and turns onto his side so he can watch his daddy through the door that leads to the attached bathroom.

Coming back into the nursery, arms already loaded down with supplies, daddy tries to snag a fresh diaper from the bin. The can of shaving cream, which had been clutched under his arm, falls to the ground followed by the towel and the razor. Daddy puts his foot out to try and catch the towel and ends up kicking the diaper bin, causing a cascade of diapers to hit the floor as well.

The sheepish look on his daddy's face is the last straw and Jensen can't help but laugh. Daddy is always doing stuff like that.

"You think that's funny, do you? I'll show you funny." Then Jared is on the floor with him, long nimble fingers tickling his sides and belly. "This'll teach you to laugh at me."

Jensen tries to roll away, giggling and thrashing, but Jared is relentless and he doesn't stop until Jensen is laughing so hard he can barely catch his breath. Worn out and happy, they lay there, side by side, both of them gasping for air.

"I love to hear you laughing." Daddy says. "It's the most beautiful sound in the whole world."

He doesn't mention how long he'd had to wait or how hard he'd had to work to get Jensen comfortable enough to laugh for the first time after coming to live with him. And that's just as well.

Notwithstanding the somewhat rocky start, the rest of the morning ritual goes off without a hitch. Jensen lies on his back while Jared unsnaps his sleeper and removes his wet diaper. Daddy dips the wash cloth into the basin, wrings out the excess water, and tenderly wipes him clean. The terry cloth and warm water feel really good against his skin. Jared finishes up by applying a thin layer of ointment to prevent chafing and rashes.

"There. All done," Daddy says, taping the fresh diaper into place. "Now we just have to get that scratchy stuff off your face."

The shaving cream feels kind of tingly and cool and makes him squirm a bit.

"You gotta stay still now," Daddy admonishes him quietly, nothing but affection and amusement in his voice.

Compliant and content, Jensen stops squirming while daddy moves the razor oh so carefully over the plains and contours of his face. His look of intense concentration speaks of how seriously Jared takes his task. Jensen relaxes under his daddy's steady hand and watches as his brows furrow and his dimples flash occasionally.

The easy familiarity of the time spent together and the effort daddy puts into it make Jensen feel cherished and secure.

"Baby soft," Daddy declares once they're done, running a finger over his freshly shaved cheeks and chin. He says the same thing every time. That phrase is part of their morning routine and Jensen's pretty sure the sky would have to be falling for daddy not to say it.

Holding up two different shirts, daddy asks, "What do you want to wear today?"

Jensen points to the navy blue t-shirt. It's one of his favorites because it used to belong to daddy. The cotton material has been stretched out and, even though it's a little big on him, it's really comfortable.

The rest of the morning flies by what with making and eating breakfast, calling and confirming that everyone can make it that evening, and cleaning their cozy, little house to get it ready for guests.

Of course, Jared does most of the work, but that doesn't mean Jensen isn't busy too. It's his job to keep his daddy company. So while Jared makes breakfast, Jensen sits in his booster seat and listens to his daddy's deep, rumbly voice as he talks about what needs to be done during the day, cooing and gurgling whenever it seems appropriate. When Jared vacuums the house, Jensen crawls along behind him, picking up any stray toys he comes across and putting them in the toy box. He even fluffs the pillows on the couch while daddy dusts.

Their house is small, tucked away in a secluded spot on a large parcel of land at the edge of town. The nearest neighbors are several miles away and that's the way they both like it. There are two bedrooms, the master bedroom and the nursery which are connected by a bathroom, a study where daddy goes to do his work, the kitchen where they cook and eat all their meals, and the living room.

By the time they're done with the cleaning and have eaten a light lunch of tuna sandwiches with potato chips, it's time for Jensen's nap. They cuddle up in the nursery rocking chair, Jensen nestled in a blanket on daddy's lap, holding his white, stuffed rabbit, Mr. Bun, in one hand and sucking on his bottle of warm milk.

It's nice and, as active as he's been all morning, he should be feeling sleepy and ready to go right down for his nap, but instead he's wide awake, too excited to sleep. The thought of having a bunch of people around makes him jittery, as though his skin is constantly being charged with tiny currents of nervous energy. Even though he loves Uncle Christian and Misha and he thinks he could probably come to love Chad eventually, he's still anxious at the thought of having so many people in the house with him all at the same time.

Daddy cups his cheek in one large palm, rubbing at the nape of his neck with blunt fingertips. The gesture is intimate, soothing in a way that would normally help him to drop off. Jensen sucks lethargically on his bottle and lets his eyelids droop at the pleasure his daddy's stroking fingers give him.

"Okay baby, m'gonna put you down in your crib for your nap now." Daddy murmurs.

To show his displeasure at the idea of being left all alone in his crib when he's not tired, Jensen fusses. He sticks out his bottom lip and makes an unhappy, whining noise. It's not a temper tantrum. There's no reason to pull out all the stops. Besides, Jensen doesn't like to make a lot of noise, he's pretty easy going for the most part, and he can count on one hand the number of times a full-blown temper tantrum has been necessary with Jared.

"No nap today?" Daddy tilts his head to the side and looks at him with a question in his slanted, hazel eyes. "I think you might regret that decision when you fall asleep right in the middle of your visit with Christian and Misha."

Jensen just shakes his head, drops his bottle, and winds both his arms around his daddy's neck, still clutching his stuffed bunny. He really doesn't want to be left alone right now.

With a self-deprecating chuckle, daddy stands, lifting Jensen in his arms, blanket and all. "Fine, no nap. God, you have me right where you want me, don't you? Wrapped around your little finger. Your Uncle Christian is gonna laugh himself silly when he hears about this."

Together they go into the study so daddy can get some work done before their guests arrive. His job as a magazine editor allows him to do almost all his work from home on his computer. It's a perfect situation as far as Jensen is concerned. He loves all the time he gets to spend with his daddy.

The buzzing of the doorbell sometime later makes Jensen's heart leap into his throat. He's eager to see his friends and flustered at the same time because he's never sure how he's supposed to act around other people, he's never sure what's expected of him. It's a strange feeling, being happy and frightened all at once.

Daddy looks at his watch. "It's not quite six yet. Someone's early." Shutting off his computer and standing up from the desk, he looks down at Jensen where he's sitting on the floor nearby, fluffy toy rabbit on his knee. "You ready?"

Jensen nods even though he doesn't think he really is and crawls after Jared into the entryway, careful to stay somewhat hidden behind his daddy's legs.

Christian is standing on the other side of the door in his uniform, holding a bakery box by the twine it's wrapped in. As soon as the door opens, he gets a huge grin on his face. "Hey man, hope it's okay I'm here early. My shift just ended and I was already out this way. Thought I'd just swing by instead of going home first to change."

Peeking out from behind his makeshift shelter, Jensen can see Christian's patrol car in their dirt driveway.

"No, of course it's okay. We're just glad you could make it on such short notice." Daddy takes the bakery box from their friend before pulling him into a one-arm hug. "What is this and where's Chad?"

"Chad's on his way. He's gonna stop and pick up the pizzas and that," Christian points to the box Jared has is his hands, "is a cake because we can't celebrate a two year anniversary without cake. Am I right, kiddo?" At this, Christian crouches down on his haunches so that he's nearly at Jensen's eye level and sticks one hand up in a 'high five' gesture.

The butterflies in his stomach flutter and Jensen doesn't know where he should look, so he lowers his eyes, unbearably bashful.

"Oh no, none of that. You're not gonna leave me hanging. You can play at being shy with everyone else, but not with me. Come on, kiddo; let me have it, right here." Christian extends his hand again, palm out, and this time Jensen musters the courage to slap his own palm against his uncle's, smiling at the floor.

"That's my boy." Christian's voice is warm as he hauls Jensen in for a hug, skimming his knuckles lightly over the hair at the top of Jensen's head. "Your hair is getting awfully long." he whispers, as though it's a secret.

Jensen's hair is pretty long, he guesses. It's gotten long enough to curl up at the ends where it lies against the nape of his neck. Daddy likes to run his fingers through it and Jensen finds the sensation soothing, so yeah, it's been a long time since Jared has trimmed it and that's fine with Jensen.

Christian's fond acceptance breaks through Jensen's nerves and uncertainly just like it does every time they're together and soon Jensen is enjoying himself, sitting on the couch in between Jared and Christian, listening as they cut up and tell funny stories. Christian always has some good ones about the people he works with on the police force or the strange things that happen to him in his line of work.

Whenever Jensen feels the need for a little affection, he just cuddles up to his daddy or his uncle and they're quick to press a kiss to his forehead or put an arm around his shoulders.

Chad gets there next and he's…loud. "I have arrived! The party can now begin!" He yells as he bursts through the front door without knocking.

Jensen can't help his startled flinch. Christian feels it and rubs his arm to help calm him while his daddy jumps up to grab the pizza boxes Chad is holding triumphantly high in the air.

"Awesome. Thanks for getting the pizzas, Chad." Jared says.

With a raised eyebrow, Christian asks, "Did you remember to bring my guitar?"

"Stop off and get the pizzas, Chad. Don't forget to bring my guitar, Chad. For fuck's sake Kane, I'm not your goddamn pack mule." Chad is waving his arms around and he sounds really angry.

Jensen puts his hands over his ears and rocks forward to get his head between his knees. His heart is hammering in his chest. Loud voices mean hitting or punishing. That's something Jensen remembers all too well.

"Easy, easy." Someone starts softly rubbing his back and he hears Christian say, "Not so loud, Chad," in a gentle, reassuring voice.

"Shit, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you, buddy. I was just playing around. Honest." Chad doesn't say anything for a while, no one does.

The couch dips as his daddy sits next to him again and Jensen burrows into his side. Eventually his heart rate slows and he feels brave enough to lift his head and glance around.

Chad, looking like the very definition of remorseful, is shifting from foot to foot, lacing and unlacing his fingers, head bowed. It's kind of pitiful.

Jensen offers him a tentative half-smile.

Chad returns it.

"Yeah, I brought your guitar." Chad says to Christian, voice much more subdued. "It's in the car; I'll go get it."

The front door is still wide open from Chad's dramatic entrance and Misha steps into the house just as Chad sidesteps him to get out. They nod at each other in greeting, Misha watching Chad's retreating back with a puzzled look on his face afterwards.

"Something wrong with Chad?" He asks.

"No, he's fine. Just going to fetch my guitar for me." Christian explains.

"Ah." Misha nods and smiles at Jensen. "In that case," Gracefully sinking into a cross-legged sitting position on the floor of the living room, he opens his arms invitingly. "Where's my hello hug?"

Jensen scrambles off the couch on his hands and knees and makes a beeline for Misha's outstretched arms. Misha catches him up and laughs, settling him in his lap. "How's it going, Jensen? Jared treating you alright?"

Jensen nods. It's a silly question, Jared always treats him great, but Misha seems to like asking. He does it every time they see each other.

"That's good. How's your scar?"

The scar Misha is talking about is an old one, two years old to be exact. Jensen lifts up his t-shirt so Misha can see the jagged line of raised flesh crossing his belly. An odd combination of awe and anguish flits over Misha's face as his thumb traces the same path the knife had taken.

Jensen doesn't know what he did to deserve the gaping hole in his stomach. The whole incident is kind of a blur to him. There'd been a lot of screaming and then a white-hot, searing pain and then nothing until Christian had been there, telling him to hold on, that everything was going to be okay. For some reason, Jensen had believed him and he'd been right.

As the paramedic dispatched to attend to Jensen that night, Misha had been the one to try to patch him back together and keep him from bleeding out on the way to the hospital. Misha asks about the scar frequently and Jensen thinks he must not be the only one to bear a scar from that night. Only maybe Misha's scar can't be seen from the outside like his can.

When Chad gets back with Christian's guitar, they all dig into the pizza, eating it straight out of the boxes in the living room, not even bothering with plates. They do however, use plates and forks for the cake, Jensen's favorite, red velvet with cream cheese frosting. It's delicious.

Outside the windows, daylight fades and darkness falls. Christian pushes his plate away with a grunt, takes up his guitar, and begins to strum the chords to a mellow country song.

The effects of a long day without a nap catch up to Jensen then, just like daddy had warned him they would. He's so sleepy he can barely keep his eyes open. Determined not to miss out on any of the fun though, he refuses to stay still. If he moves around a whole lot, he won't be able to fall asleep, right? That's the plan anyway.

He starts off in his daddy's lap with his head tucked under his daddy's chin, fingering the catch of the gold-plated watch daddy wears on his left wrist while listening to the quiet chatter between his friends. Daddy holds him close and strokes a hand through his hair. That's no good because it's only making him sleepier. He feels his eyes slip closed and his hand stills without his permission.

Nope. He shakes himself awake, crawls out of daddy's lap and over to Misha where he snuggles up against his friend's chest. His eyes feel dry and scratchy. He has to keep blinking and rubbing at them. Misha shushes him, puts a hand over his eyes to shield them from the lamplight and to prevent him from rubbing them red. Jensen doesn't realize he's nodded off until his head comes to a rest on Misha's shoulder.

No, no, no. Blinking groggily, he leaves Misha for Chad. Surely Chad won't let him fall asleep. Loud, crazy Chad. Jensen climbs into the chair Chad is sitting in and stretches out beside him. Chad gives him a bemused look, like he's surprised, happily so, that Jensen wants to visit with him. Then he puts an arm protectively around Jensen's shoulders and goes very still and quiet. Turns out Chad isn't any better at keeping him awake than daddy or Misha were.

Finally, he has to give it up as a lost cause. With a yawn, he makes his unsteady way back to the couch, curls into a ball and puts his head in Christian's lap, heedless of the guitar which Christian quickly moves out of his way.

He's kind of halfway asleep and halfway awake when he hears Misha say he has an early shift in the morning and has to go home. Chad says he should go too and daddy gets up to see them out.

He really wants to say goodbye to his friends, but he's so drowsy he can't move, can't even open his eyes. He feels himself floating and he kind of wonders if he's dreaming.

"Looks like someone's all in." Christian's fingers card though his hair, brushing it out of his face.

The couch shifts and Jensen thinks his daddy must have come back and sat down again. "I'm surprised he's made it this long actually. He didn't wanna take his nap this afternoon."

"And I suppose you gave in. Didn't even make it past the pout, did you?" Christian's voice is amused.

"You think you could do any better? Next time he wants something I'm going to send him to you. I dare you to withstand his big, green eyes and his trembling lower lip. They're lethal, man. I'm telling you."

Christian sighs and his next words are said in a deep, sad tone. "Jared, have you told him yet?"

"Not yet. I'm afraid he's not going to take it well, he doesn't like change, new people scare him, and honestly…I can't stand the thought of upsetting him."

"Yeah." There's a pause and then Christian continues. "If I could keep him for you I would, you know that right? In a heartbeat. It's just not possible; I've already tried asking. The precinct is down a man right now with Olsen out on disability and the Chief won't even consider rotating my schedule to accommodate Jensen staying with me."

"No, I know you would. I just need to suck it up and tell him. Could you…I mean, would you mind being here when I do it? Just in case."

Jensen doesn't hear Christian's reply because the sound of his own heart beating is too loud for him to hear anything else.

Jared doesn't want him anymore. Jared is getting rid of him and Christian can't keep him either. Where will he go?

Before he realizes what's happening, he's gulping air through his mouth like a fish out of water. A band of steel is looping around his chest, constricting tighter and tighter. The air isn't going anywhere; it's stuck in his lungs, as thick and heavy as tar.

There are hands on him, pulling him up into a sitting position, thumping him on the back, pressing on his chest. Christian is off the couch, kneeling in front of him and Jensen can see his mouth moving, can tell Christian is talking to him, but he can't hear the words. All he hears is a buzzing sound and the thumping, rushing, whooshing sound of the blood pumping through his veins. Black spots are dancing in front of his eyes, growing bigger and getting darker.

Jared doesn't want him anymore.

That's the last thought that goes through his mind just before he checks out.

"This was the worst one yet. Even right after you got him away from those assholes who called themselves his parents, the panic attacks weren't this bad. Are you sure he's alright?" His daddy's voice sounds weird, like it's coming from far away, through a tunnel or from underwater or something. There's a worried edge to it too.

"I know it was, but he's gonna be okay. Passing out was the best thing that could have happened to him under the circumstances. He's breathing just fine now."

That's Uncle Christian. Why is Uncle Christian here?

Someone runs a hand down his flank, over the padding of the diaper at his hip and the bare skin of his thigh, and Jensen realizes he's lying stretched out on his side, not his normal sleeping position. Usually he sleeps curled up or on his stomach.

He doesn't feel very good. His head hurts, a throbbing ache at the base of his skull, and his stomach is churning like he might have to throw up. Maybe he's sick. Maybe that's why daddy sounds so worried and Uncle Christian is here.

Nothing is making much sense. He whimpers and puts out a shaky hand, not understanding where he is or what's going on, but needing some comfort.

"Hey baby. I'm right here. Can you hear me?" Daddy takes his hand and Jensen feels the moist press of lips against his palm. "Can you open your eyes?" The quavery, worried tone is still there. Jensen doesn't like it.

Fighting the groggy, fuzzy feeling inside his head, he blinks open his eyes. The walls of the living room spin around him in a lazy circle.

It takes him a moment to realize he's on the couch, but when he does, the conversation he'd overheard -the conversation between his daddy and his uncle - comes crashing back in vivid detail, every word crystal clear.

Daddy is sending him away because he doesn't love him anymore. 'New people' is the same thing as strangers. Daddy is giving him away to strangers.

With a choked-off wail, Jensen yanks his hand away, curls himself into the smallest ball he can manage and scrunches back into the furthest corner of the couch. He just wants to melt into the cushions and not have to feel this crushing ache in his chest.

He can't do this, he just can't. It's too much.

Scalding tears pool in his eyes, run down his cheeks and drip off his chin, one after another. He recognizes the thin, keening noise as coming from him, but he doesn't know how to stop making it, doesn't know if he even cares.

"Jesus Christ, Jared. Do something." Christian's voice sounds wrecked and it seems to break some kind of spell because daddy moves then, scoops Jensen up in his muscular arms and holds on tight, as though he's trying to keep them both from shattering into a million pieces.

"Jensen, don't cry sweetie, please don't cry." Cradling Jensen against his chest, Jared sits on the couch, their couch, in their home, but not Jensen's for too much longer.

Christian hovers indecisively for only a few seconds before sitting next to them, one hand on Jared's bicep, the other on Jensen's ankle, offering a source of strength and the quiet assurance that he's not leaving them alone, either of them.

Other than the harsh sobs and tremors wracking his body, sapping all his strength, Jensen is unable to move and he goes limp, letting his head flop forward.

"It's going to be okay, baby. I love you so much and, I swear, I'm not going to let anything bad happen to you." Daddy croons, voice deep and soothing. "I know you heard Uncle Christian and me talking and I know it scared you really badly, but it's not as horrible as you seem to think."

The words are a mantra said over and over again, "I love you baby, please don't cry. Not gonna let anyone hurt you. We'll be alright. I promise, I promise, I promise."

Barely audible and only partially penetrating the sounds of his despair at first, little by little the meaning behind the soft murmurs and gentle caresses begins to trickle through.

"He's shivering; I'll get his blanket." Christian bends to brush a strand of damp hair from Jensen's face then turns toward the nursery.

"And can you heat up a bottle, too?" Daddy asks, distracted only for a moment from his constant stream of reassurances.

"Yeah, of course." Changing direction, Christian walks the short distance to the kitchen.

Jensen's tears eventually taper off, exhaustion replaces grief, and his mournful cries become muffled hiccups and hitched breathing.

When Christian comes back into the living room, he has a bottle of milk and Jensen's blue and yellow striped blanket. The blanket, a present from Misha last year, feels good, like home and family and belonging somewhere, and Jensen doesn't have it in him to protest getting wrapped up in the fleecy material from head to toe.

As they settle him, blanket clad, back into his daddy's arms, Christian hands the bottle off to Jared, who tips it up and nudges the nipple past Jensen's swollen lips. Even though he normally starts off holding his own bottle at naptimes, relinquishing it only when sleep begins to tug at him, he makes no effort to hold it now, instead nestling further into the blanket to take as much comfort from the moment as he can.

It's all too far beyond him and he's too sleepy to think anyway. The crying hasn't helped his headache.

The milk is laced with something, something with a little kick to it. Whether it's medicine or alcohol or something else, he's not sure. Whatever it is, Christian and daddy share a look as he sucks at the bottle and his eyelids grow heavier.

"Listen sweetie, we'll talk about this more in the morning when you wake up, but I'm going to tell you now so you don't have to worry anymore." Daddy kisses his temple then continues. "I've been offered a promotion at work…Editing Supervisor. I'm not sure if I'm going to take it yet, but I told them I'd give it a try, see if we can make it work out, just on a trial basis."

Jensen's head is beginning to feel as though it's filled with helium. Maybe he's had enough milk. He turns his head, letting the nipple slip from his mouth.

"The thing is…I'll have to be in the office at least part time to meet with staff editors and be available to answer questions. That means not being at home with you as much as I am now." Putting the bottle on the coffee table in front of the couch, daddy shifts Jensen higher so his head is nestled in the juncture of daddy's neck and shoulder. "I don't like leaving you at home by yourself so I've hired a nanny to come stay with you. His name's Mark…Mark Pellegrino. He's really nice. I think you're gonna like him."

Christian is standing next to the couch with his arms crossed over his chest, a stern look on his face when he says, "I've done some digging, pulled a background check on him. I wouldn't let just anyone stay with you. He's got a clean record, but I can always stop by during the day while I'm out on patrol, make sure you're okay."

There's no way Jensen is going to be able to stay awake much longer. His eyesight wavers and blurs.

Daddy's voice is getting harder to hear, fading, as though someone is turning the volume down. "You'll meet him in a couple of days. If you don't like him, you give me the sign and it's a no go. I'll…"

Jensen blinks, blinks again, and the next time he closes his eyes, they stay closed.

Continued at Chapter 2

nightmares of innocents 4



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